Quick takes on 9 different movies
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working night shifts with nothing but my laptop for company, and long story short: I’ve seen a bunch of movies recently. So, without needlessly prolonging this introduction, here are, in no particular order, my shortest possible “reviews” portraying what I thought about these nine different films released in the past few years/decades.
1. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
This one’s based on a true WWII story, and I’m usually cautious about “true story” movies, but holy hell is this a good film… Great acting, great cinematography, a few cliché scenes here and there but they don’t rob the story of its impact.
The main character is Desmond Doss, a person who has strong personal beliefs against violence and using firearms, yet, he wants to join the war efforts as a field medic. I mean, forget the true story part, that concept alone sounds interesting enough to me. Pair that with the aforementioned acting and directing, and you get a great, inspiring movie.
I would recommend Hacksaw Ridge to pretty much anyone. Just a heads up, though, the violence gets graphic and the second half of the movie is gritty as hell.
2. Silence (2016)
To put it in short terms, Silence didn’t do much for me.
It’s a well-made film, and Andrew Garfield as the lead carries the entire movie, but it’s a slow burn. The story follows two catholic priests as they go to 17th century Japan, a place where their religion got outlawed and Christians are being prosecuted. However, I wouldn’t classify this as a religious movie. It’s more about fate in general, and how people struggle with their beliefs.
There are some good dialogue scenes and philosophical ideas shared throughout the movie, but there was just too much meandering in between for me to fully enjoy the movie. I don’t know… I’m glad that I’ve seen it, but I’m not sure if I’d recommend it. Maybe give it a shot when you’re feeling philosophical and wouldn’t mind watching a person struggle with life and fate for two and a half hours.
3. Glass (2019)
All right. I didn’t expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did. Having had seen that this film left a lot of people angry and disappointed, I went in with very low expectations. In fact, I was certain I was going to hate it. So, after finally seeing it, I’m surprised that I liked it.
For those who aren’t familiar with this unexpected trilogy, Glass is the third (and final?) movie from M. Night Shyamalan’s “superhero” series. Naturally, Glass continues the journeys of characters introduced in its predecessors (Unbreakable and Split). We follow thematic representations of a superhero, a mastermind, and a villain with split personalities.
Now, the movie is most certainly flawed, have no doubts about that. The pacing is off at times, execution is often clumsy, and the whole structure of the movies is a bit unorthodox (especially when viewed as the last movie in a trilogy). For the longest time, I had no idea where this movie was going, and I don’t say that in a good way. I mean, the whole second act threatens to shit on the very idea that built this story up, and then the third act shits on everything but that! I guess I would best describe this movie simply as uneven. It starts as a character-driven story, but in the very last act, it’s suddenly all about twists and plots and world-building.
All that being said, however, I kind of liked those plots and twists… I think I appreciated them because I’ve read a lot of superhero comics, and the ideas driving the main plot of the movie are all about translating those repeating comic book themes into the “real” world. And I dig it. In the end, Glass felt more like a graphic novel than a movie, and I could genuinely discuss its ideas and choices in a separate post just about that... So yeah, good on you, Shyamalan. (But also fuck you for that abomination that is The Last Airbender…)
Anyway, if you’ve seen the previous two movies in this trilogy, and if you appreciated the “comic book lore” of those movies more than anything else, chances are you’re going to like this one. However, if you’re in it for the characters and their journeys, maybe don’t get your hopes up.
4. Creed II (2018)
This one is a sequel to a sequel that was also a spin-off. Anyway, the Creed series follows Adonis "Donnie" Creed, the son of the famous boxer Apollo Creed whom you might know from the Rocky movies. Meanwhile the legendary Rocky himself is Donnie's boxing coach.
I remember being rather impressed by Creed I when it first came out. As someone who never saw a single Rocky movie, I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy it, but I did. The relationship between old-man Rocky and young Creed was the best part of that movie for me, and that continues to be the case in Creed II. The two have a great dynamic and the movie as a whole is a good sequel. It follows a familiar template, but it’s a solid, character-driven story nonetheless, and it nicely ties up the story of Adonis Creed.
Definitely check it out if you’ve enjoyed the previous part, and if you’re unfamiliar with the series, give Creed I a shot (it stands on its own, regardless of its ties to the Rocky movies).
P.S. I heard they’re making Creed III, which seems unnecessary to me, but for what’s it worth, this second part finally made me give the original Rocky a chance.
5. Rocky (1976)
I’m not sure where I stand with this movie. I understand and appreciate its value and the impact it had, but as a story, looking at it now, it’s just kind of okay.
Rocky is almost a 50 years old movie, and it shows. Not that it aged too bad, it just… aged. It still has its charms, and it almost acts as a period piece at this point, but my main issue was the pacing and the lack of story. The first twenty minutes of the movie is just Rocky walking down the streets of Philly and interacting with his neighbors. And when something finally happens to kick-off the plot, it’s a bit too convenient and it doesn’t seem earned.
The movie is also pretty straight-forward. There are no twists and turns here, which I guess is fine since it’s all about the characters and their lives, but my problem is that I didn’t much care for anyone in this movie. Rocky is a bit of a bumbling buffoon who’s afraid his best days are behind him, and he’s bitter/disappointed that they weren’t all that good in the first place, but that’s about it. He’s a relatable character in that regard, someone who you’d want to root for, but I never really cared because it felt like every other character is a role on a stage and not an actual person. I’m not sure if it’s because of the writing or acting, or simply due to the passage of time, but that feeling stuck with me throughout the entire film.
That being said, the movie is by no means a bad watch. I was entertained, I appreciated the historical value, and I’ll certainly be giving Rocky II a shot. I just wasn’t impressed. I was in it for the story, and it turned out the whole story of this two-hour-long movie could’ve been summed up in a couple of sentences. I guess I’d recommend it to those who are curious about it as a film. If you’re in it for the story, like I was, maybe just find a summary of it online.
6. Dredd (2012)
Now, this movie knows its shit! The premise of Dredd is simple. In a depressing world where people live in sci-fi mega-cities and crime is off the charts all the time, everything pretty much sucks. The only ones who stand a chance at maintaining some level of order are the special police officers who act both as judges and executioners. Yes, that sounds like a terrible idea given the current climate in America, but it works here – the judges are the good guys. Well, at least Dredd, our main character, is.
Anyway, Dredd is partnered up with a certain rookie, and on their very first day together, the two of them end up trapped in a building full of hostile crooks eager to kill them. There’s more to the story, of course, and much more to the characters (who are surprisingly compelling), but that’s the premise. And it is executed flawlessly. The action is great (and gory), the pacing works, the suspense, the visual effects… it was pretty much all on-point for me!
Simply put, this movie is badass. If you’re into action or crazy dystopian shit, give it a shot!
7. Chappie (2015)
Yeah, no, this one is somewhat of a miss... The movie had its moments, but I’m mostly remembering the negatives.
Long story short, a dude creates a legit AI robot, capable of evolving and thinking and feeling like a human. It’s a digital consciousness, basically. The robot, however, ends up with some low-life criminals and we have our movie.
My main issue with the film is that everyone but Chappie, the robot, is a complete asshole all the time. And sure, part of the movie is about showing us the dangers of dickheads influencing young minds, but even that message is forgotten by the end of the movie. I don’t know when, but at some point, the filmmakers decided that the audience should root for the asshole criminals. What?
Anyway, there are some fun/funny scenes, and some interesting ideas, but it’s very hard to take the movie seriously by the end, both because of the characters and some leaps in the story. I’d only recommend it if you have time to kill and nothing better to do.
8. The Disaster Artist (2017)
I’m not going to lie, this movie was surprisingly inspiring. For those unaware, The Disaster Artist is a true story about two guys filming a movie called The Room. Now, The Room is one of those “so bad that is good” kind of movies, and its director, producer and lead actor – Tommy Wiseau, is a very unique individual (to say the least). Maybe just look him up on YouTube if you’re unsure what I mean by that…
Anyway, James Franco, who directed, produced and played Tommy in The Disaster Artist, could’ve taken the easy route here, point a finger at Tommy, and make fun of him and his failed movie, but he didn’t. Sure, there are some laughs about it, how could there not be, but The Disaster Artist isn’t a parody. It isn’t really a comedy either. It’s just a movie about two dudes following their dreams. And sure, yeah, Tommy Wiseau is unbalanced and shady and absurd, but this movie lets you know he’s also human.
It's funny, but I sort of appreciate the fact that both The Room and The Disaster Artist exist as part of movie history and culture now. Everything about these movies and how they came to be is funny, and sort of sad, and even a bit encouraging… Feel free to skip The Room, but maybe give The Disaster Artist a try.
9. Marriage Story (2019)
Uh… Marriage Story is about two people getting a divorce. That’s it.
Well okay, there’s this drama about their dumb kid as well, and some lawyers complicating shit, but seriously that’s about it. Funny thing, though, it’s not a bad movie. It’s your standard character drama, dealing with life stuff or whatever, but it’s very well-acted, and it keeps you engaged for the most part.
The very beginning felt cheesy as fuck, and the end dragged on for me, but I can look past that. What bugs me more is that once the movie ended, I felt nothing. I was a bit underwhelmed, like, that’s it? Why did I spend two hours on that? I sort of wished I had used that time to watch something else, you know.
This movie clearly isn’t for me, but I don’t quite dislike it. I just wouldn’t go recommending it to people. Maybe if they’re really into drama or theatre? I don't know... Make of that what you will.
All right, that’s all I got for now!
'Till next time.